Monday, September 22, 2008

The Dawn Has Come

'...death is not a fire extinguished, but the lamp being put out for the dawn has come...'

Isn't that so comforting?

I've struggled most of my life with the notion of death. I grew up fearing it. I didn't understand it. I didn't want to experience it in any way, shape or form -- I didn't want to die, my parents certainly couldn't die, my brother, my friends, anyone that I clung to for survival and love were not allowed to die!

I remember when my grandparents died. When Daddy Lem (my dad's dad) died, there was an open casket. I was asked to go view the body. I freaked OUT! No way! Ain't no way Jackie's going up to see a dead body. I was about, ohh, fourteen, maybe. I bawled and bawled at the funeral. I wasn't even close to Daddy Lem, in fact, rarely saw him. But it was my first loss ever, my first experience at someone related to me that died.

Fast forward about seven years when Grandma B. died. (Yes, we actually called her Grandma B.) Again, I didn't see her much because of our military lifestyle, but I was closer to her than I ever was my grandfather. I was again asked if I wanted to view the body. I cringed at the very thought, but I *made* myself experience it. I touched her crossed, cold hands even. She looked peaceful, but not the woman that I grew up knowing. The cancer caused her to lose so much weight. She never wore makeup that I recall. Anyway, I grea up a little bit that day and learned a few things about death -- and life.

When my father passed away, I learned an important lesson through that experience, which I credit to my husband. I learned that death is a PART OF LIFE. Totally new concept to me, but I embraced it. I do still struggle with the notion of death, but through my faith and of course the wisdom of age, I am way more comfortable when people die, accepting my own fate, etc.

Tonight, my husband and I attended a funeral of a wise beauty of a woman that my husband met through a former employer. When he met her, she had already been diagnosed and fighting Cancer. They rode together on the train occasionally and later, he learned she went to our same church. During these rides, and during their time together at work, they shared quite a bit about their belief in God, among many things. They had a neat friendship it seems.

One day, she asked my husband to be a part of her funeral arrangements and he humbly accepted. He was a reader tonight and he did great. He looked so handsome in his suit (haven't seen him in that in a while!). His hands were cold before he went up there to read.

The priest said some lovely, lovely words about her and her life. The opening phrase to tonight's blog are the words the are forever emblazened on my soul.

Thank you KT for your gifts to me in our short time together. And I will see you by dawn's early light...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bridging Gaps


I'm at THAT age.

The middle part.

Yes, I'm only 37, and to most, that seems young for much-maligned "middle age", but do the math. Double 37 and you have 74. I'll be lucky to see 74 because genetically speaking, The Cancer is pretty much my mode of death in my 60's. Hell, I might even be a "late bloomer" in the "middle aged" phase of life.

I'm awakening. Slowly.

And, when I peer through the squint, and manage to make out the images through the foggy, sleepy-eyed me, I can see a figure. The figure is Potential Jackie. She's smiling. There's levity as evidenced by her very countenance. She's finished school. Her kids are happy. She's present in moments. I see her dancing, a full, white, long skirt flowing in the wind; her long hair wrapped around her shoulders and neck spinning with arms outstretched.

Over here, I'm standing. I'm Stuck Jackie. Split fifteen different ways. On the inside looking out. Passive. Heavy with emotional, spiritual and physical weight. Even sad but very, very aware of the goings-on and ruminations of my soul. I am sitting in black, indian-style, head bowed in prayer, sometimes even looking away.

There's my beloved body of water between Stuck Jackie and Potential Jackie. I love the water. As I always say, it frees me. The water frees me. But now, it's between the Me-s. I can swim it. I can boat it. I could float it. I could build a bridge.

Building a bridge requires a lot of activity, planning, hard work, struggle.

I think I'll start doing that.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mystery Girls Club

Remember, when as little kids, we'd make clubs? And they were exclusive clubs! "No boys allowed", or "Girls Only", or "Future Farmers of America". In church today, My Eldest shared a club story with me.

My Eldest created a club with two of her friends last school year called the Mystery Girls Club. No boys were allowed, and this club had a clear mission: to solve mysteries. This is the first I've heard of said club. (I wonder how much of this conversation occurred because My Eldest didn't want to participate in Mass.)

Eldest: Remember friend 1 and friend 2? Well, we formed a club called the Mystery Girl's Club and we had to solve mysteries. Well, not real ones, but pretend ones. And we had, like, 2000 clues to figure out this mystery.

Me: Wow! That's cool. And that's a lot of clues. Surely you figured it out. Tell me what it was all about...

Eldest: *sigh* Well, we never did figure it out. *looks away disappointed and embarrassed*

Me: *smiling assuringly as only a mother can do* What?! What do you mean you didn't figure it out?? You made it up AND you had TWO THOUSAND CLUES! How could you not figure it out? *smile*

Eldest: Well it wasn't a real mystery, mama! And besides, most shows on TV only have three clues. Y'know, like Blues Clues, or Scooby Doo. All they need is three clues to figure out their mystery. Maybe I should get my own show and we'll call it "The Mystery Girls Club Show".

Me: Sure, babe. You do that. *goes back to listening at church*

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Innocence Is Not Lost

Tonight, My Eldest and her Brownies troop participated in a recuitment night at her former school. (I've kept her in that troop, even though she's at a new school.)

My Eldest was given a speaking part of sorts. The girls do a flag ceremony, where the U.S. flag is brought in by the troop and ultimately saluted. Then, the people in attendance recite the Pledge of Allegiance in unison with the troop. My Eldest was given the task of directing her troop to stand at attention, directing them to march the flag to the front of the room, posting the colors and prompting the salute. She was most proud of being assigned this task, and make me proud after watching her do it.

While standing at the back row of the cafeteria, watching the girls and pledging my allegiance to America, I gulped down a few tears. I realized that despite the horror of September Eleveth, and all the panic that it caused initially, here are these beautiful you girls who are so innocent and pure. Here we are, collectively in a room, peoples of all walks of life, races with various storied backgrounds, saying how much we love this country. And no terrorist, foreign or domestic, will take that away from us. No evil will usurp the innocence of the moment I witness and shared tonight.

Monday, September 08, 2008

This One's For Zig

I've never met him, but it might be kinda cool.

We are members of the Mutal Admiration Society, reading each other's blogs and exchanging an e-mail or two here and there.

His name is Zig and he made fun of my Jason Mraz music. He said it needed a little red dot bouncing over the words while we sing along. *chuckle*

So I asked Mr. Zig Zag Man to suggest a song and he came up with Kid Rock's "All Summer Long".

Enjoy, goof and friend!

Theme O' The Weekend: VICTORY

I am having a *great* weekend!! Victory is indeed mine this weekend....

It's opening season for NFL football. My Cowboys spanked the Brownies (awww KB Canada *pet*pet*) today and my fantasy football team won by a commanding 60+ points.

Also, last night, I went on the funnest date in a long time!! Dallas, like most metropolitan cities, has some very unique places to go. I don't know many of them. haha. Anyway, there's a very groovy place in downtown Dallas called Victory Park, and that's where I watched the UT Longhorns v. UT El Paso Miners play football on Saturday night.

I knew there was a very good chance that this date would NOT happen. My husband is usually in bed and asleep between 9-10 p.m. He *hates* going downtown. He does NOT like crowds whatsoever. If there's any kind of traffic or parking issues, he's gripey to the point where the whole night can be ruined. However, miracle of miracles happened and he was on board with going! (We're in that 'trying' phase of the marriage...and this was his effort. Thanks, love!)

Now, when I left to go on this date, it was about 8:30 p.m. The kids were just about ready for bed and we grabbed our lawn chairs, a couple of waters and headed out the door. Grandma put the kiddos to sleep (yay for grandmas!). We were yawning in the car, and frankly, I was wondering if even *I* would last the night.

As we neared downtown, I perked up.

As we searched for the right parking lot, we saw lights that I can only liken to Time's Square (even thought I've never been there...hush!). I became electrified when I saw those flashy, glittery lights.

As we walked closer and closer to the giant TV screen and plaza area, I was completely jazzed and could not be smiling any bigger.

I don't know what it is about downtown Dallas at night, but I have a love affair with him. I absolutely love it here. The skyline and architecture just astound me. And being in the pulse of the city definitely brought my barely-breathing heart some life!

Officially called AT&T Plaza, this is a plaza where one can view games, movies, concerts on a 1500 foot HD TV that hangs from the entrance over the American Airlines Center (where the Dallas Stars and Dallas Mavericks play). It's flanked by TWO MORE *moving* screens, one is dedicated solely to digital art. Here's a visual:

Pretty cool lookin', right?

Well, you should see this place at night! (Hey! Wait! You can! See below.) Anyway, colorful lights, bars and restaurants pumping, people strolling. This particular night, I went to watch the UT/UTEP game (Longhorns won!). The weather was perfect. 'Twas a setting of worlds colliding (sports bar/being at the actual game). The crowd wasn't as crazy as being at the football game and it was not as crowded as I expected it to be; and it was a lot like being at a sports bar outside -- on a much larger scale. When touchdowns are scored or penalties are called, there's still that uproar of voices objecting or rooting.

A sea of burnt orange with the occasional splash of UTEP blue was the scene. The sounds of the city were drowned by the sounds of the game. About the second quarter, we hear the thumping of drums in the distance. It grows louder and nearer. We start to hear the cling-clang of tamborines. Then we hear voices of men singing. Turns out the Hare Krishnas were recruiting that night. A whole gaggle of them paraded around the plaza, trying to propogate their faith. The security guards walkie-talkied and the fans watching football stole glances and made fun of the marching, but overall, they weren't disruptive enough to violate any laws or offend anyone. There was almost a collective yawn after the initial curiosity was answered with the "Hare Krishna" signs. I chalked it up to half time entertainment -- just a lil early.

I was so excited about this venue and my date that I immediately came home to search the 'net and subscribe to e-mails of future events there. Turns out I missed all the summer movies. Boo! BUT...there will be more fun things to do.

And I will go.

Victory is MINE. Muahahahahahahahaha!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Guitars and Catfish

One of my favorite and, sadly, most impressionable memories of my daddy is from my adult life. And, when I reflect on the memories like the one I'm about to share, I am especially longing for MORE TIME with him. I find myself grieving The Potential. You know what I mean. The kind of pre-emptive grief. The kind where, as an individual, you become severely ill at a fairly young age and most of your sadness about dying or being in a state of dimished incapacitation evolves around such potentials as "I won't live long enough to seem my grandchildren", or "He won't get to walk her down the aisle or dance the father-daughter dance at the reception". You know. THOSE.

Now that he's gone, I've realized how few memories I have of him. Sadder even still that I have even fewer of he and I *together*.

One of the few I have, I treasure. Thankfully it's because I was able to witness him in his element, and that in of itself, brought me joy.

My father loved golf, playing cards, Old Grand Dad mixed with Coca-Cola, and fishing. In his retirement, he spent a lot of time running a trot line. I guess that's a lazy-way-of-fishing.

Anyway, Daddy would clean the fish and share it with the patrons and his friends at this bar in San Angelo called The Saddle Bronc. In the back of the bar, there was an open area where he and his buddies would deep fry catfish and hushpuppies. During those times, a buddy of his would be pickin' the guitar and they'd all sing old country songs. We'd all sit around eating Bud-caught catfish, singing and laughing. I was in my mid-twenties then....

When he'd stop cooking, he'd find a spot to sit, have a drink in his hand and nibble on the catfish. If a song was being sung that he didn't know the words to, he'd have his eyes closed with a little smile on his face. His foot would tap to the beat, legs crossed. And then, once in a rare while, I'd steal a glance from him that bore a twinkle in his eye meant for no one else but me.

I see it now. I do. And it makes me weep. I grieve that my children will not know the twinkle from his eyes meant for only each of them. And they won't have their Papa to dance with at their weddings. My Daughters will not get to see Papa fry catfish and sing old country tunes.

....The Potential.

Monday, September 01, 2008

I'm Yours - Jason Mraz

A blithe tune that allows me a moment to frollick in the sunshine of a special someone...

Well you done done me and you bet I felt it
I tried to be chill but you're so hot that I melted
I fell right through the cracks
and now I'm trying to get back
Before the cool done run out
I'll be giving it my bestest
Nothing's going to stop me but divine intervention
I reckon its again my turn to win some or learn some

I won't hesitate no more, no more
It cannot wait, I'm yours

Well open up your mind and see like me
Open up your plans and damn you're free
Look into your heart and you'll find love love love
Listen to the music of the moment people dance and sing, we're just one big family.
It's your God-forsaken right to be loved love loved love love

So I won't hesitate no more, no more
It cannot wait I'm sure
There's no need to complicate
Our time is short
This is our fate, I'm yours

I've been spending way too long checking my tongue in the mirror
And bending over backwards just to try to see it clearer
But my breath fogged up the glass
And so I drew a new face and I laughed
I guess what I'm saying is there ain't no better reason
To rid yourself of vanity and just go with the seasons
It's what we aim to do
Our name is our virtue

I won't hesitate no more, no more
It cannot wait I'm sure
There's no need to complicate
Our time is short
This is our fate, I'm yours

Well no no, well open up your mind and see like me
Open up your plans and damn you're free
Look into your heart and you'll find love love love love
Listen to the music of the moment come and dance with meah, la one big family ([2nd time:] ah, la happy family)
It's your God-forsaken right to be loved love love love

I won't hesitate no more
Oh no more no more no more
It's your God-forsaken right to be loved, I'm sure
Theres no need to complicate
Our time is short
This is our fate, I'm yours

No I won't hesitate no more, no more
This cannot wait I'm sure
There's no need to complicate
Our time is short
This is our fate, I'm yours, I'm yours